Cybervictimization in Canada

Statistics Canada recently released an informative infographic about cybervictimization among young adults in Canada. One in four young adults (12-17) reported experiencing cyberbullying in 2018. While a quarter of male and female-identifying teens reported cyberbullying, just over half (52%) of non-binary teens reported experiencing it. Additionally, First Nations youth living off-reserve and youths attracted to the same gender reported higher rates of cyberbullying (34% and 33% respectively).

Infographic on cybervictimization.
Cybervictimization among young adults in Canada. See the full-sized infographic at https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2023023-eng.htm.

The infographic seen above was based on a report that suggested several “buffers” to cybervictimization. In the teenage population surveyed (12-17), buffers could include not using devices at mealtime, having parents who often know what their teens were doing online, and having less difficulty making friends. All ages of the surveyed youth who experienced cybervictimization considered taking actions to make themselves safer online such as blocking people, restricting their internet access and carrying something for protection when offline.

How to Help

Knowing which demographics experience the most cybervictimization can help us craft the right kind of support. What can be done to help protect young Canadians? One literature review suggested that “digital literacy functions as a promotive factor protecting young people’s wellbeing when faced with an online risk.” While other supports such as teaching youth about bullying, empathy and emotional well-being are effective, digital literacy is also key to keeping safe online.

The Cyberbullying Research Center in their article, How Media Literacy Can Prevent Online Harm, offers three helpful tips for youths to combat cybervictimization:

  1. Create content to make a difference and defend others. Youth are advanced content creators. We can teach and encourage them to create content in a media-literate manner. This could mean that when someone is being cyberbullied, they will respond in a courageous, incisive and intelligent way to deflect the harassment, distract the harasser, or defuse the tense situation. By using their voice to protect others, they can help to reduce harm.
  2. Analyze content to detect various forms of harm. Aggression shown by some youth towards others online may derive from the many examples of contentious, discriminatory and even hateful discourse modelled to them in both the digital world and the world around them. Digital and media literacy can help them think critically about the media they consume. They can then become upstanders rather than bystanders, and take appropriate action when needed.
  3. Evaluate content to prevent victimization. When we teach youth to spot deceptions such as deepfakes, they are equipped to notice when something is fact or fiction. Similar skills will help determine if the stranger who is messaging them online is who they say they are. “Careful evaluation of what others say and do is a monumentally critical skill in a day and age where the potential for scams and victimization online is on the rise.”

For more detailed examples and explanations of the “create, analyze, and evaluate” model, read the Cyberbullying Research Center’s complete article.

Cybervictimization can cause real and lasting harm. Learn more about how to combat it by checking out the resources below.

Resources

Note for readers: There will be no blog posts next week, April 3-7, 2023. Read All About Lit will return on April 11.

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